Houston lawyer Carnegie Harvard Mims III has sued GEICO and one of its in-house lawyers, claiming in an April 27 petition that he suffered racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation while working for seven years as a staff attorney for the car insurance giant.
Mims alleges defendants GEICO and Neil Levin, the managing attorney of the Houston staff counsel office, engaged in discriminatory actions against him in violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He seeks more than $1 million in damages from the defendants.
Among other allegations, Mims says the defendants failed to provide him with a personal secretary like other attorneys had, required him to clock in and out via email but did not require the same of other attorneys on staff, and also failed to give him merit increases, or even a merit review for four of the seven years he worked at the office.
Mims alleges he was fired in August 2016 in “retaliation for his opposition to discrimination in the workplace and his complaints to HR about the same.”
Levin did not return a telephone message left at Levin & Clinebell in Houston, where he practices as staff counsel for GEICO. The company also did not respond to messages seeking comment on the allegations.
In his petition, filed in state district court in Harris County, Mims claims he started working for Levin and GEICO in June 2009. During his tenure, Mims alleges, he handled more than 713 cases, including 50 jury trials—48 as first-chair—and most “yielded zero/take nothing verdicts” and the majority were favorable for GEICO. He alleges that he was the only African-American employee for the last five years he worked in the office.
Mims says he was not provided a personal secretary when he was hired, and despite a promise that the next secretary hired would work for him, Levin reneged on the promise and assigned the next secretary to an attorney hired two years after Mims.
Mims alleges that Levin required him in 2014 to start clocking in and out each day, and the practice did not stop until after Mims complained to the GEICO human resources department.
Mims also alleges that when the office moved to a new location in 2016, his office furniture was given to another attorney and he was assigned to a small temporary office, presumably while waiting for new furniture. “The furniture never arrived, and Mr. Mims was never moved from the temporary office,” the petition alleges.
“All of defendants’ above actions created a hostile work environment and had a negative effect on the physical and psychological well-being of Mr. Mims and his productivity while he was employed by defendant GEICO,” Mims alleges.
Mims additionally alleges that after he accepted a job as an attorney at Hadi Law Firm in Houston, Levin and GEICO retaliated against him by filing motions to disqualify him from litigation his new firm was handling against GEICO or its policyholders. Mims alleges that was an attempt to get him fired from his current job.
Husein Hadi, founder of Hadi Law Firm who represents Mims in Mims v. Government Employees Insurance, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking a comment.